Sweden - Eduardo Lobo

Review - Sweden

After competing on Melodifestivalen, Robin Bengtsson was chosen the representative act for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. 

At the final, he beat both Wiktoria, the odds and streaming services favourite, and Nano, who won the public televote.

 

Who is Robin Bengtsson?

https://i.giphy.com/WUFLq11y0B7Dq.gif

He rose to fame in 2008, when getting the third place at the Swedish version of the reality show Idol, the same year as the first place went to Kevin Borg, who’s still trying to represent Malta, his native country, and the runner-up was Alice Svensson, who failed to qualify at this years Melodifestivalen. Also, on the same season of Idol, placing fifth, wasone of the most polemic acts of the Swedish history on the contest, Anna Bergendahl.

After Idol, he released a couple of songs, most of them using “B Robin” as a artistic name, it didn’t last too much as he came back with his original name at 2016’s edition of the Swedish selection with “Constellation Prize”. The song placed fifth on the Melodifestivalen final and ranked second at the Swedish Music Charts.

Now, for the second time competing, we got the gold ticket to the Eurovision stage in Kiev with “I Can’t Go On”.

 

The Song

“I Can’t Go On” is a modern uptempo pop song with some influences from the 90’s. We can say that because one of the composers and producers of it, David Kreuger,  worked at the Cheiron Studios, responsible for a huge amount of hits on those years, which includes the debut album of Britney Spears. He’s also one of the composers of the 2014 swedish entry, Undo, by Sanna Nielsen. Another name on the songwriting team is Robin Stjernberg, the swedish representative on the 2013 Eurovision.

The main subject of the lyrics basically is the sudden desire of a person. This was accompanied by one of the most solid performances on the Melodifestivalen final.

Robin used treadmills for a walking effect, as the dancers done some tricks with them as well. Since the swedish entries do not change too much the winning performances, we may see almost the same thing in Kiev, on the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017.

Moldova - Alexandru Badea

Moldova – Sunstroke Project Hey Mamma

Hello 2017. This is 2010. We would like to have our Epic Sax Guy back. Okay? This is Moldova Calling and after a national selection thats seen so many withdrawals, we finally have a winner, namely Sunstroke Project (this time, however, without Olga Tira). The chip dance anthem Hey Mamma will represent Moldova at the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest. Now, dont jump on me, but their entry from this year does not even come close to their masterpiece from 2010. But, oh, this is maybe only my opinion.

Sunstroke Project won O Melodie Pentru Europa 2017 after a nerve-wracking voting session. Firstly, the jury awarded its points and Sunstroke Project ended up on the second place with 10 points, Moldova using the traditional Eurovision marking scheme. The top 2 entries, namely Ethnologischen Republic and Sunstroke Project were consistent with the viewers, but in reverse order, which led, ultimately, to a tie between the aforementioned entries. Now, what was there to be done? Remember my previous article in which I covered the songs from O Melodie Pentru Europa 2017? Well I mentioned there, that, in the case of a tie, the youngest member of the jury would decide the entry which goes to Kyiv (Ive said it before and Im saying it once again: yes, this was an actual rule!). And guess what happened? Sunstroke Project won the title and won the Moldovan ticket.

Now something about the band: Sunstroke Project was formed in 2008 and tried to represent Moldova at the Eurovision Song Contest both in 2008 and 2009, but found no success, whatsoever. In 2010 the group finally managed to represent for the first time Moldova in the Eurovision Song Contest alongside Olia Tira. It was after the 2010 contest that saxophonist Sergey Stepanov became a YouTube sensation known all over the world as the Epic Sax Guy. The video of him performing at the contest went viral and has been watched millions of times. In July 2012 Sunstroke Project and were awarded 13 gold and 4 silver medals in the international contest World Star in Hollywood. In August 2015 the group started their own music label, Ragoza Music, and released the song Not Giving It Up. Ragoza Music quickly became the biggest independent label in Moldova and you may remember the horrible logo of the label on Lidia Isaac single artwork from last year.

Armenia - Michele Acott

The song for 32 year old Armenian Artsvik Harutyunyan has finally been released.

The song has been greatly anticipated since Artsvik was selected (after convincingly winning both the jury and televotes) at Depi Evratesil (which translates to ‘To Eurovision’).

Armenian broadcaster AMPTV opened a competition to the public and received 300 submissions from all over the world. They chose “Fly with Me” – music written by Levon and Lilith Navasardyan (who were behind Aram MP3’s “Not Alone” in 2014 and Iveta Mukuchyan’s “LoveWave“ in 2016) with lyrics by Avet Barseghyan and David Tserunyan.

According to AMPTV, both the music and lyrics were inspired by this year’s slogan for the Eurovision Song Contest; Celebrate Diversity.  The song features folk and traditional rhythms and elements not only from Armenia, but according to AMPTV, also from Europe, Africa and even Asia.

Artsvik said of her song “My song tells a story of a girl, who is the metaphorical symbol of love. She embodies the colors, the stories and the voices that make us who we are. “Fly with me” encourages everyone to come with me on this girl’s journey of championing the diverse and beautiful human nature. I think nowadays it is especially important to embrace our heritage and our traditions. We, the people – our colors, our stories and our voices make up this world. We must never forget that this girl’s light and love is one for all of us.”

The song starts gently with the lyrics "I want to tell you a story…" over a piano accompaniment. An electro beat kicks in with an overlay of whispered lyrics which eventually builds to strong tribal themes. The song is very lyrical and definitely tells a story.  Artsvik's voice is strong and confident and the song builds to a dramatic crescendo.

The film clip features Artsvik singing to camera and dancing with six backup dancers. They're dressed in black flowing outfits with Artsvick wearing black with colourful wraps on the chest along with long fringing flowing from her wrist bands.  It’s both modern and cultural.

I like this song a lot - it's current but with a strong folksy influence. 

Artsvik will perform in the second half of semi-final 1 and I think it's a definite finals qualifier.

 

 

Belguim - Mahmoud El Achi

Belgium’s Blanche aims to light up Kyiv with City Lights

After placing a respectable 10th in 2016 with What’s the Pressure?, performed by Laura Tesoro, and a strong 4th-place showing by Loïc Nottet the previous year, Belgium has continued its current policy of allowing the two state broadcasters, RTBF and VRT, to alternate in their selection of a singer and song at Eurovision.

Last autumn, Francophone broadcaster RTBF picked 17-year-old Blanche to represent Belgium, and early this month we found out that the song she would be singing in Kyiv is titled City Lights.

Blanche, who’s real name is Ellie Delvaux, is a newcomer to Eurovision but is not new to song contests, having taken part in the sixth season of The Voice Belgium (reaching the semi final).

Following her internal selection by RTBF, Blanche set to work on writing City Lights alongside established songwriter and performer Pierre Dumoulin, the frontman of the group Roscoe. Dumoulin’s pedigree as a songwriter is reflected by the fact that the Liège native is a two-time winner of Belgium’s Octave Award for Best Album (for Roscoe’s debut album Cracks in 2012 and again with their second album in 2015). Dumoulin wrote the music and collaborated with Blanche on the lyrics.

Blanche has a rich, grown-up voice that defies her age, and City Lights is a grown-up, mid-tempo, somewhat mournful track. The early response to the song has been positive, with people quickly turning to Twitter to voice their approval, with some pointing out that it’s a great song that would never be picked as the winner of a national public competition.

The song is not typically Eurovision, so is likely to stand out as a result. Blanche will perform for Belgium in the first semi-final on Tuesday 9 May 2017.

The Netherlands - Nigel Bond

With apologies for late post for Netherlands. It was decided back in October that O'G3NE (no relation to OGAE) will represent the Netherlands in the Eurovision Song Contest 2017, but only this month it was announced that song will be "Lights and Shadows". O'G3NE is girl group comprised of three sisters Lisa, Amy, and Shelley - two of which are twins (but I forget which). A decade ago they competed in Junior Eurovision and came 10th. Just a reminder that the section of band was in October 2016 and the selection of song was in March 2017 - so obviously very independent and not connected. So the song - called Lights and Shadows which was written by Rick Vol, who just happens to be the father of these three sisters. Keep it in the family. I could not ascertain if this family are related to someone senior in the Dutch Broadcaster in charge of the selection. So it has a chance - some people will like it but I found it a tad underwhelming and would rather Slow Down that Cry No More.


And for the lyrics:

Cry no more, cry no more

Though the hallway catches light
It won't reach the corner where you strongly fight
Here in the shadow
At this place they know the game
Outside the world will turn and feel the same
There in the sunlight

But you are so much more to me
Than the one who carries all the burden
I can only hope once you fly you'll be free
You should never...

Cry no more, feeling all alone and insecure
You have been going through these stages
Now it's time to turn the pages
We're gonna stand in line
And not give up but walk that road
That everybody goes
Through lights and shadows

Every time the candle glows
It lightens up the space but no one knows
Will there be a dark side?
Every battle's victory
Is a double feeling when you cannot be
Here in the spotlight

Cause you are so much more to me
Than the one who lifts us on your shoulders
I can only hope once you fly you'll be free
You should never...

Cry no more, feeling all alone and insecure
You have been going through these stages
Now it's time to turn the pages
We're gonna stand in line
And not give up but walk that road
That everybody goes
Through lights and shadows

On a scale of one to ten
You got the biggest score, you're heaven sent
No one will doubt that you're an angel
So what went wrong this time?
Hurt nobody, did no crime
What's with the universe, why you?

France - Rodrigo Hidalgo

France will be represented this year by Alma, who will try to end he dry spell that the French seem to have gone under. The song, composed by Nazim Khaled, is called Requiem. Alma is not only a singer, but she also has a degree in economics. She has lived all over the place, including France (or course!), Italy, Brazil and the US. Nazim and Alma have worked extensively together, as he composed the majority of the songs in her debut album "La Chute est Lente" (which translates as "The Fall is Long"). Nazim, of course, is not a stranger to the Eurovision scene, as he co-wrote and produced last year's entry, J'ai Cherché.

The song has a north African feel to it, although it's been somewhat watered down by the revamp,. It is still an intriguing song that captures you from the first listen – which, at Eurovision, is key, as most listeners and potential voters won't have been exposed to it prior to the night. Alma's live performance is not the strongest, so she'll have to work really hard if she wants to make an impression. Requiem continues the new approach from France since the change of head of delegation, trying to make their entries more relevant without giving up completely the French feel (but now with a bit of English lyrics, presumably to try and pick up points).

Overall, I feel it's one of the strongest entries of the year – at least in the studio version – that could end up placing very well if Alma and her team manage to come up with a memorable staging and if she is able to pull off the performance of her life.

Bulgaria - Nikke Allen

Kristian Kostov will represent Bulgaria in the Eurovision Song Contest 2017.

He was born in Moscow, on 15 March 2000, which makes him the youngest competitor in this year's Eurovision.  His father is Bulgarian, and his mother is from Kazakhstan.  First of all, Kristian participated in the Russian children's version of "The Voice", and got through to the finals.   His mentor there was Dima Bilan.

He then auditioned for X Factor Bulgaria Season 4, and made it to the final, eventually coming second.

On 7 October 2016 his debut single "Ne si za men" was released by Virginia Records, and reached #13 in the Bulgarian charts.

His song for Eurovision,  "Beautiful Mess"  was written by
Borislav Milanov, Sebastian, and Joacim Bo Persson, all of whom were part of last year’s writing team for Poli Genova's   "If Love Was A Crime."   

"Beautiful Mess" is a ballad which has ethno nuancesparticularly at the beginning and end, and they add depth and colour to the song.   Kristian's voice suits perfectly the sensitivity of the ballad, and the lyrics are forward-looking and ultimately hopeful.

Good luck in Kyiv, Bulgaria!

 

Norway - Chris Zeiher

Norway – JOWST – “Grab the Moment”      

Strålende…Norway’s #discoface is off to Kiev!   JOWST’s “Grab the Moment” lived up to their promise and did just that surprising a few of the more fancied contenders at Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix to grab a ticket to the Ukraine.  

Electropop is a mainstay of the charts throughout Scandinavia and JOWST’s “Grab the Moment” is a fabulous example of this style with its accessible rapped verse and slick chorus.  Chuck in a mildly creepy LED light masked music master and some lurid hot pink overlays to accompany the chorus and you’ve got a cool gimmick that avoids the kitsch.    

JOWST secured the highest portion of the Norwegian televote during the super-final (which was determined 100% by the voting public) and the lads will find themselves performing in the second semi-final in Kiev.   

Contemporary, accessible and visually arresting – pop your nerves in the coffin kids we could be off to Oslo in 2018!        

Spain - Luis Omar Chong Lopez

Spain Preselection

Last February 11th  was held the Objetivo Eurovision, Spain National final; which promised to be spectacular after last year Barei's disappointing result at the ESC.

The show commenced with several technical issues, including that it was not able to be played on the RTVE official website or any other link. A true mess for the fans out of Spain.

A medley of Eurovision past songs like Euphoria, Rise like a Phoenix and Amanecer opened the curtain to the show, which leaded only 1.499.000 viewers.

Starting with Manel Navarro. " Do it for your lover"  simple english / spanishsong joined for beach clips on the stage, not so bad but very plain and repetitive for Eurovision.

Following Leklein,"Ouch" Lekleinwas the winner of the Eurocasting a type of online Swiss format used on the last years . Leklein singing solely on stage a powerful song entirely in English and inspired on a love breaking. Very well performance and delivery on stage.

 Paula Rojo with "Lo que nunca fue" a pop song with country arrangements, Paulawas joined withher band and presented a very sweet song. A different option for Eurovision.

Mario Jefferson sung " Spin my head" another english / spanish song, Mario was joined by 4 dancer on stage, highly appreciated to see a choreography after the three first songs.

Maika Barbero with " Momento Critico" pure rock song, amazing voice and performancebut unfortunately so underrated by the juries.

Finally Mirela, trying for the third time to get the passport to Eurovision with the song " Contigo", a latin rythms which was the most supported on the studio by the public.

A very well performance of Mirela which invited us to dance with her "baila la la la"

The voting started giving the lowest juries scores to Mirela, and the highest to Manel Navarro; after received the televoting results Mirela and Manel were tied but unfortunately the juries had the power to decidewho would represent Spain at Eurovision and obviously they chose Manel. A true Euro drama for this preselection show.

Iceland - Nikke Allen

Last Saturday, the Icelandic National FinalSöngvakeppnin took place at Laugardalshöllin, the national indoor arena.  The final consisted of seven entries that, via 50/50 public televoting and jury voting, were shortened to a top 2, and then the winning entry was determined by the super-final in which the top two entries in the final battled it out for the title of Iceland's 2017 Eurovision entry, decided by public tele-voting.

1.  Aron Hannes - Tonight

Dressed smartly in black leather trousers and white jacket, Aron fixes the camera with a smile and moves assuredly around on the stage.  He is far more engaging in his performance than the semi, but seems to be a bit breathless at times and his vocals are a little weak.  


2.  Arnar Jónsson & Rakel Pálsdóttir - Again

Rakel's light as air voice begins this breathy ballad and then Arnar joins in, to the sound of piano chords.  Dark stage adds to the atmosphere, and their voices mingled are simply beautiful.  A real quality performance, and the audience waving their phone lights in the hall seem to think so too.


3.  Aron Brink - "Hypnotised"

The backdrop is lighter and more colourful than in the semi, and Aron and his backing dancers, all dressed in white and grey, move well on stage. It's a fun and lively tune but Aron's vocals are rather weak and undistinguished.   With a more powerful vocalist, this song would be great - however Aron has a lot of boyish charm and his performance goes down well in the hall.


4.  Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir - "Bammbaramm"

This is the wildcard.   A nice rhythm to this song, and Hildur's vocals are a lot better than in the semi, but somehow I still finds it lacks energy, and she makes her performance seem like it's hard work.   The giant heart is still there but used to better effect.


5.  Rúnar Eff - Make You Way Back Home

Runar stands at the mike with his backing singers sillihetted agains the blue and black backdrop, and then fog creeping onto the stage adds to the atmosphere.   Runar's spot-on with his vocals, but I'm finding the song a little slow to get into.   However, once it hits its stride, it's great.


6.  Svala - Paper 

Vertical lines of bluefeature on the backdropand cut through the gloom stage as Svala, dressed in white suit and clumpy wedge shoes, begins.   Right from the start her performance and vocals are self-assured and spot-on. She strides around the stage as though she owns it,   A blue lazer light show cuts through the dark before the final chorus,and the backing singers who seem to be hidden away somewhere, do a really good good job of backing her.   Great applause at the end.


7.  Daði Freyr - Is This Love?

Daði is onstage with 2 backing singers standing at mikes, and 3 faux guitar players with their "toy" light up guitars.  He and the backing are dressed in the same green jerseys with their cartoon faces on the front, and a cartoon backdrop of themselves synchronizes with their movements.  Daði gives a good performance, and the song sounds better in English.   It seems to have improved from the semi and certainly they've thought more about their presentation of the song.

After the interval where Greta Salome and Alexander Rybak performed, the two super-finalists were announced and they were:

Svala - Paper
Daði Freyr - Is This Love?

The phone lines opened again for another vote to decide the winner, and after another interval, during which Mans performed to a very appreciative audience, the winner was announced, and it was.....Svala!

Good luck, Svala and Iceland, see you in Kyiv!

 

Serbia - Kent Acott

This year will be the tenth time Serbia has performed at Eurovision, having won at its debut in 2007 and only twice failing to make the final.


Last year, they finished 18th in the final with Sanja Vučić’ song Goodbye.


But it was perhaps Bojana Stamenov’s Beauty Never Lies in 2015 that was the most memorable of Serbia’s recent entries. It was a powerful dance number that surprised many people by finishing tenth in the Vienna final.


This year Tijana Bogićević will make her second appearance on the Eurovision stage (she was a backing vocalist for Serbia’s representative Nina in 2011) when she sings In Too Deep.


Produced by experienced Eurovision quartet Borislav Milanov, Bo Persson, Johan Alkenas and Lisa Ann Mari Linder, it is a classic pop song with allows Bogićević to show-off the full range of her vocals. It builds appropriately and the dramatic ending gives it a more distinctive flavour.
In a year with an abundance of ballads, it’s up tempo will allow it to stand out.


And if its staging is an inventive as its music clip, it should be something to look forward to.
It’s in the first semi-final, but should make it through and ensure Serbia has another final entry.
Bogićević, 35, was chosen by music editors with the Serbian National Broadcaster (RTS). While starting her career as a backing singer, she had some chart success in 2010 with the song Tražim (Searching). She has also recorded a new album that will be released later this year.
Bogićević is married to an American and lives in the United States.

Czech Republic - David Kilmartin

Martina Bárta – Czech Republic

Martina Bárta will represent Czech Republic at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. 

Martina is a 28-year-old Czech jazz singer who was born on September 1st 1988.  She also plays the French horn and was part of the jazz band ‘4 To The Bar’.  Martina is based in Berlin, Germany.

Martina was internally selected by the Czech national broadcaster CT to represent Czech Republic.  The nation’s broadcaster put out on open call for song entries where five songs were short listed.  The song “My Turn” (written by the British team of Kyler Niko and DWB Music Ltd) was chosen as Martina felt this particular song was the best match for her style.

“My Turn” is a beautiful ballad which showcases Martina’s classic-style vocals.  The piano is used to great effect throughout the song.  Martina is singing about how it’s her turn to look after her partner when they are in difficult times, reflecting upon how her partner looked after her when she was going through similar times.  Martina’s voice is full of sincerity and I believe every word she is saying as she walks through a diverse group of people all dressed in their underwear as they support or are supported by others.  This is tastefully done and helps to make the song even more touching and believable. 

Czech Republic qualified for a Eurovision Grand Final for the very first time last year with an entry that fully deserved to be there.  It seems they are determined to build on that success from last year and make it to the final again this year by delivering another quality classy entry.  Personally, I hope they can do it again.    

Martina will perform in the second half of the 1st Semi Final on Tuesday May 9th. 

Poland - Luc Spencer-Gardner

Powerful Polish Possibilities in Krajowe Eliminacje 2017

This year’s Polish National Selection brings us 10 songs, 5-6 of which are of very high quality.  Notable standouts include “Chce tam z toba byc”, “Reason” and “Flashlight”.  There are a coupld of duds, as per EVERY national selection, notably “Sky Over Europe”, a boring, poorly sung and tuned discardable track… And the horror of “Ulalala” and its ridiculously inane lyrics.

Last year Poland came third in the televote at Eurovision, finishing eighth overall.  This is the third time in Poland’s history of making the top ten, most notably having come second in their debut year, 1994, with Edyta Górniak’s “To Nie Ja!”.  This year, Poland are hoping to extend their qualifying streak.  The 10 songs in the National Final are strong contenders to achieve this!

Initially the show was to be held on February 11, however the broadcaster extended the deadline for applications until February 10, and so the show was moved back for a week.  The venue was alive with excitement and anticipation, as Poland steeled themselves to vote for the artist to represent them in the world’s largest music event. 

For the first time, Poland introduced a 5 Panel Jury to make up 50% of the overall score for the artists.  The other 50% remained with the audience.  This jury consisted of: Alice Węgorzewska (mezzo-soprano opera star), Maria Sadowska (singer and director), Robert Janowski (actor and singer), Wlodek Pawlik (jazz musician and composer) and Krzesimir Dębski (composer of music for recording artists, film and theatre).

Scores were allocated as follows: the highest televote or jury vote received 10 points, the second highest 9 points, and so on.  The artist who received the lowest votes and scores would receive just 1 point.

Song

Writers

Artist

1.     “Fight For Us”

Marcin Mroziński, Sean Kennedy

Martin Fitch

2.     “Only Human”

Małgorzata Uściłowska (Lanberry),
Piotr Siejka, Sarah Reeve

Lanberry

3.     “Voiceless”

Fredrik Kempe, David Kreuger

Isabell Otrębusy

4.     Chcę tam z tobą być” (I Want to be There with You)

Michał Kacprzak

Paulla

5.     “You Look Good”

Ashley Hicklin, Rufus Hamsen, Farchard Samadzada

Olaf Bressa

6.     “Flashlight”

Kasia Moś, Rickard Bonde Truumeel, Pete Barringer (DWB)

Kasia Moś

7.     “Ulalala”

Kevin Zûber, Maciej Puchalski, Aneta Sablik, Heavym Gates

Aneta Sablik

8.     “Sky Over Europe”

Marcin Kindla, Marek Dutkiewicz, Rafał Brzozowski

Rafal Brzozowski

9.     “Faces”

Małgorzata Bernatowicz (Carmell), Paweł Jurczak, Marcin Kuczewski

Carmell

10.  “Reason”

Marcin Kindla, Allan Rich,
Jud Friedman

Agata Nizińska

And how did the competition go?  Well, the voting looked like this…

Song

A

B

C

D

E

Jury Total

Jury Score

F

Total

Placing

1.     “Fight For Us”

6

7

4

7

5

29

6

2

8

7

2.     “Only Human”

5

2

1

6

1

15

3

5

8

6

3.     “Voiceless”

9

9

8

9

9

44

9

6

15

4

4.     “Chcę tam z tobą być”

4

4

5

5

4

22

4

3

7

8

5.     “You Look Good”

1

1

2

4

2

10

1

1

2

9

6.     “Flashlight”

10

10

10

10

10

50

10

9

19

1

7.     “Ulalala”

2

3

3

1

3

12

2

4

6

10

8.     “Sky Over Europe”

8

5

7

8

7

35

8

8

16

2

9.     “Faces”

3

8

6

2

8

27

5

10

15

3

10.  “Reason”

7

6

9

3

6

31

7

7

14

5

A= A. Wegorzewska   B= M. Sadowska   C= R. Janowski   D= W. Pawlik   E= K. Debski   F= Televote (Score out of 10 only) 

Artist’s Biography:

Kasia, for those who follow the Krajowe Eliminacje, will be very familiar.  Last year, she performed her song “Addiction”, only placing sixth. 

A vision of blonde hair and intense eyes, Kasia won the hearts of the jury and the public to represent Poland in Kiev!  Her exceptional ownership of the stage, song and audience was hypnotising.  This song is powerful and commanding, and should fare quite well in the competition this year.

Kasia, a Polish singer and songwriter, was born 3 March 1987 (30 years old) in the city Ruda Slaska.  The daughter of Marek Moś, who is the conductor of the well-known Polish musical group Aukso. She is a graduate of the Frederic Chopin Music School in Bytom, where she studied cello and piano. Impressively, Kasia also has a degree in jazz and contemporary music, graduating from Karol Szymanowski Vocal Academy of Music in Katowice.  At age fifteen, she began to attend vocal classes by Elżbiety Chlebek, her first steps towards a professional singing career.

In 2005, she released "I Wanna Know", which she performed in Piosenka dla Europy 2006, Poland's national final for the Eurovision Song Contest 2006, where she finished in tenth place.  In 2008-2009 she portrayed the character of Judas in the play Pasja wg św. Marka by Paweł Mykietyn.  The play was shown at the Wratislavia Cantans, the Polish Music Festival in Kraków and Warsaw.

October 2015, she released her debut studio album “Inspination”.  "Addiction", qualified to Krajowe Eliminacje 2016, Poland's national final for the Eurovision Song Contest 2016.  In the same year, Kasia appeared on the cover of the October issue of Polish version of Playboy magazine.

Now, Kasia is heading to Kiev to represent Poland with Flashlight", which will be included on her upcoming studio album.   In an OGAE Poland interview, she said the song is dedicated to all who are persecuted.   "For me it was mainly about all the poor animals. But it can also go for refugees and anyone who does not feel safe and has to flee from the place where they left their family, their home, and their life..."

What a sweetheart – and what a Star!  This excellent song and exceptional artist will wow Europe (and Australia) at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest without a doubt.

 

Ireland - Niall Drennan

Ireland 2017

Part 2 - The Song

As they old saying goes, it’s been a long time between drinks and this is certainly the case when it comes to Ireland’s 2017 Eurovision campaign.  It’s been over 3 months since Brendan was announced as Ireland’s artist.  Since the announcement was made last December, Louis Walsh has been going through over 300 submissions to find the perfect song for Brendan to sing in Kyiv.  On Friday 10th March 2017, RTE unveiled Brendan’s video and song - “Dying to Try”. 

The track was co-written by renowned songwriter Jörgen Elofsson, who has written songs for Westlife, Britney Spears and Leona Lewis; and James Newman, who has written hits for Rudimental and Little Mix.  “Dying to Try” is a sweeping ballad with that all-important key change and Brendan describes the song as "taking a leap of faith and putting your trust in someone else".

Ireland has been drawn in the second semi-final on Thursday 11th May alongside serial qualifiers such as Russia, Serbia and Romania.  RTE must get the staging and performance exactly right if it wants to have any chance of qualifying for the Grand Final.  Time will tell if they succeed in achieving Ireland’s first qualification to the Final in 4 years.

Dying to Try – Official Video

Azerbaijan - Michele Acott

Diana Hajiyeva, known more commonly by her stage name Dihaj (made from taking the first letters of her first and surname) has just released her song for Eurovision 2017.

Dihaj was born on 13 June 1989, lives in Baku and was chosen by internal selection in December last year.

Her song “Skeletons” was written by Isa Melikov and Sandra Bjurman, who both worked with Ell & Nikki in 2011. Sandra Bjurman also co-wrote “Hour of the Wolf” for Elnur in 2015 and “Drip Drop” for Safura in 2010 – so she’s well experienced and should know her stuff.

The film clip is dark and moody and shows Dihaj singing to camera in a diner, wandering around in a forest with televisions hanging from trees and contemplating her hands in the back seat of a car. To be honest, I’m not sure what it all means or what it’s got to do with skeletons.

It’s a very contemporary style of song that starts promising and builds nicely when it reaches the chorus. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this song on the radio - it doesn’t seem typical Eurovision to me.

Dihaj can certainly sing well, she has her own edgy style and an interesting appeal – she’s not a cookie-cutter Eurovision girl with flowing hair and a pretty dress.

Dihaj will perform in the first half of semi-final 1.

Could we be back in Baku in 2018?  hmmmmm….. I don’t think so, but Azerbaijan hasn’t missed a final since it commenced Eurovision in 2008 and I certainly don’t think it will miss the final this year.

 

 

Cyprus - Michele Acott

‘Gravity’ will be the Cypriot entry for Eurovision 2017.  Hovig released his song on March 1 after giving a few clues and dropping hints on social media as to its name.

Swedish song writer Thomas G:son has again written a song for the contest. Thomas G:son wrote the Eurovision song Alter Ego for Minus One last year and co-wrote Loreen’s Euphoria in 2012. Since then he’s been Eurovision regular, often collaborating with entries for Cyprus, Georgia and Spain. In 2015, he co-wrote Edurne’s song “Amanecer”. While it was a favourite with Spanish fans, the song disappointingly placed only 21st. He had better luck that same year with Georgia’s Nina Sublatti. His revamped version of her oximated song “Warrior” placed 11th in the grand final.

If you think the name of the song sounds familiar – that’s because it is. In 2013 Ukraine’s Zlata Ognevich performed ‘Gravity’ and came third in Malmö.  I have a lasting memory of the giant man carrying her in at the start of the song.  I wonder if Hovig will bring out the astronaut suit for his performance. I hope not because astronauts are old news and were used for Moldova in 2016 and Montenegro in 2013.

Hovig is certainly a good singer and it doesn’t hurt his chances that he’s a good-looking chap too. He moves well in the film clip where he shares the stage with a female dancer.

The song starts slow with a strong beat and builds to a faster chorus.  The chorus is catchy and repetitive with the same strong beat.

Let me be your heart and your company
I’ll let you be the one who can lean on me
I’ll catch you when you fall
When you’re falling free
Let me be, be your gravity

Let me be your wings
When you’re flying high
I’m gonna raise you up till you touch the sky
I’ll catch you when you fall
When you’re falling free
Let me be, be your gravity

Gravity will be sung in the first semi final.  I’m not sure if it will get through to the final. I think it depends on staging and how good he performs on the night.

There’s certainly scope for good staging on the night ……as long as he leaves his astronaut suit at home.

 

 

FYR Macedonia - Ronny Addamo

JANA BURČESKA FROM FYROM MACEDONIA IS DANCING ALONE!

FYROM Macedonia has finally published Jana’s song for Eurovision 2017! Jana will be dancing on stage in semi-final two (Will it be alone, who knows?) this May.

MRT received over 200 songs worldwide for Jana to pick and choose from. In the writing team is one of the people behind Poli Genova’s monster fan hit of last year, “If Love Was A Crime”, as well as sourcing hits for the likes of Kylie Minogue and working with Lady Gaga! They are some serious shoes to fill!

Jana’s entrant this year sees her borrow a sound not dissimilar to something off Carly Rae-Jepsen’s last album. A song with influences from the mid 80’s but very much rooted in the now. The song has quite a synthesized sound through the vocals, so we will get to hear if this is actually Jana’s voice, or if the live version will sound vastly different come semi-final two. I personally think, she will slay it live.

It seems that Jana very much liked Poli’s super hit last year. So much so, she’s borrowed Poli’s choreographer from last year too!

This song is probably the most current song we’ve heard from Macedonia this decade, and they are all the better for it. But I’ll let you be the judge, here is the studio version of DANCING ALONE!

Greece - Phill Beames

Greek national selection

Having already chosen Demy as the representing artist by internal selection, March 6th was the night the Greek public chose which of her three songs would go to Kiev.

This year the winner was chosen by 70% audience televote and 30% jury composed of members of the Greek diaspora from 9 different countries. Members of the Greek communities of Belgium, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Germany, Armenia, Italy, Australia, Austria and Ukraine formed the jury.

The broadcast itself showed the three official video clips of the songs, interspersed with commentary by hosts (actor Antonis Loudaros and station journalist Elena Bouzali), the composer (Dimitris Kontopoulos) and choreographer for her stage performances (Fokas Eveangelinos).

Guest performances from this years’ competitors Hovig of Cyprus and Sunstroke Project of Moldova were accompanied by messages of encouragement and well-wishes from Sakis Rouvas (Greece 2004 & 2009), Ani Lorak (Ukraine 2008), Helena Paparizou (Greek winner 2005) and Sergey Lazarev (Russia 2016).

The three songs presented were “Angel”, “This is Love” and “When the Morning Comes Around”. All three clips were filmed in both Kiev and Athens.

Angels is about overcoming adversity and how even Angels fall sometimes and pick themselves back up. The film clip was strange with a little girl seemingly representing an angel that calms situations including reconciling a couple in a seemingly abusive relationship and saving a kid from being bullied and beaten up. An entirely strange clip and a standard ballad.

This is Love is an upbeat dance song. The film clip appears to be trying to emulate Schindler’s List with all black and white except for a red dress. Not sure whether that is meant to be significant or not but the faces of a large variety of people is seemingly important. The lyrics are a bit of a mystery with the chorus seemingly being lines that simply rhyme without any logic:

“This is love
Rain falls from above
Can you feel the love?
Everywhere this is love”

Ummm….  What?!

When the Morning Comes Around sounds like an uplifting power ballad, turns out its about being devastated about a breakup… The film clip features some interesting fashion and a whole lot of forlorn looks but is a good song to listen to.

This is Love was the clear winner receiving 8 out of 9 of the diaspora vote and 70% total vote.

It should be a fun dance anthem for the week but not sure it’s a winner.

All three clips can be watched at http://eurovision.ert.gr/

Sweden - Dennis Flores

Melodifestivalen 2017

Final: Stockholm

We move onto the Final of Melodifestivalen 2017. The eight acts who qualified directly to the final were: Ace Wilder, Nano, Mariette, Benjamin Ingrosso, Robin Bengtsson, Owe Thörnqvist, Wiktoria, and Jon Henrik Fjällgren featuring Aninia.

Last week during the Andra Chansen round, we had FO&O vs. De Vet Du, Axel Schylström vs. Lisa Ajax, Boris René vs. Dismissed, and Anton Hagman vs. Loreen. The winners of the duels and who have advanced to the Final were: FO&O, Lisa Ajax, Boris René, and Anton Hagman. The running order of the Final was revealed simultaneously with the results of the Andra Chansen duels.

I have had the opportunity to view Friday night’s dress rehearsal. Here is a short recap and review of all competing entries by running order.

Song #1: “Wild Child” by Ace Wilder

The choreography during the dress rehearsal is very polished and perfect. Vocally, Ace, relies heavily on the allowed recorded backing track, and struggles during the part where it is just her singing in the last minute of the song it almost sounds like she has fallen ill.

Song #2: “Her Kiss” by Boris René

Boris appears to be confident as he stares directly into the camera. It appears that some slow-motion shots have been added in. By slowing down the choreography, it appears to lengthen an already repetitive song.

Song #3: “I Don’t Give A” by Lisa Ajax

Vocally, Lisa performs with much confidence. Lisa performs a censored version of the song. Lyrics include: I don’t give a damn what the others say/Don’t care what they say. The censored words definitely stand out. You can tell it was edited over as the volume levels of the new lyrics and original song do not match. I do not feel that this improved the song, but I don’t think that the original lyrics helped the song either.

Song #4: “I Can’t Go On” by Robin Bengtsson

Robin performed perfectly. It was well-received in the press room. After the performance was over, there were camera shots of some audience members fanning themselves. Robin also changes the explicit lyrics in his song: When you look this freaking beautiful. The replacement words, like Lisa Ajax’s also stands out as it is obviously edited. I think if the “g” is dropped to make it “freakin’” it would flow better with the song.

Song #5: “En värld full av strider” by Jon Henrik Fjällgren feat. Aninia

Aninia wins most improved for me. Her slow-motion camera shots were executed more gracefully, and her vocal is also something to commend. Jon Henrik, however, is quite the opposite. Something about his performance seems off. He looks nervous after his bit in the beginning with the floor.

Song #6: “Kiss You Goodbye” by Anton Hagman

This one would have to win most disappointing based on the dress rehearsal. His voice broke at numerous times and was out of tune. I feel like Anton performs terribly at rehearsals based on this performance and previous rehearsal videos, yet I did enjoy his song during the live shows. There were heads shaking in the press room as people muttered, “it could have been Loreen.”

Song #7: “A Million Years” by Mariette

I believe this is the most elegantly staged entry in the Final. The slow-motion with the bungee cords create a beautiful effect on screen. Mariette starts off on a bad note on the first line! Throughout the first verse you can tell that throws her off and she sounds nervous. By the middle of the song, she recovers and performs well. No noticeable changes in her performance.

Song #8: “Gotta Thing About You” by FO&O

Generic, typical dancing boyband pop song. The boys sing really loudly tonight, dancing remains the same. I would have liked to hear some variation the vocal arrangement in the last chorus to break up the monotony.

Song #9: “Hold On” by Nano

Nano performs very confidently, and you can see him bobbing along to the music. Camera work seemed off to me. It looks like the cameras were cutting too quickly as the shots between Nano and the dancer seemed disjointed and then also, I saw the camera crew in shots numerous times during the last portion of the song.

Song #10: “As I Lay Me Down” by Wiktoria

Wiktoria starts off the song with more vocal control in a red jumpsuit. Her movements are much smoother, she’s dancing and smiling a lot. Towards the middle of the song she starts to lose her breath. Some noticeable changes visually included: slight color changing of the post-editing flowers to match the flowers on the LED screens, the flowers on the LED bed form a figure of a body laying next to her. The body is a little strange, but fitting. This song was well-received in the press room and the arena.

Song #11: “Good Lovin’” by Benjamin Ingrosso

Improvement in the vocals, it’s not as harsh sounding as it was in the Semi-Final. He appears to be relaxed. Some changes in wardrobe, so he isn’t as color-clashing. The dancers also receive new wardrobe, they match Benjamin, yet clash at the same time. It all blend in together that sort of mute each other. The audience also gave this one an approving cheer.

Song #12: “Boogieman Blues” by Owe Thörnqvist

Owe is having fun. He is feeling the energy and the music. The white sun-shaped special effects need to go. It doesn’t fit with the other on-screen graphics. The music notes work well, but the others not so much.

Hasse Andersson, David Lindgren, and Clara Henry open the show with a song, and David Lindgren sings a love song medley as he works his way through the Green Room. Expect cameos from Frans, Alexander Rybak and Zara Larsson.

The Final of Melodifestivalen will be broadcasted on 11 March 2017 at 8:00 CET on SVT1 and online at SVTPlay.

Romania - Alexandru Badea

Romania – Ilinca feat. Alex Florea – Yodel It!

Yodele-eii, Yodele-oo! Romania has spoken: Ilinca and Alex Florea will represent Romania in Kyiv. Its been two months since TVR started the preparations for the Eurovision Song Contest and I can really say that the result was fruitful. After receiving a full-houseof 12 points from the five judges the public followed their decision and handed the duo the ticket to Kyiv.

Over 25.000 votes were cast last Sunday during the final, which is a record, compared to the numbers from 2012 onwards. The song Yodel it!has received 10.377 votes from the public during the 60 minutes allocated for the televoting, while the second and third place were occupied by MIHAI and Instinct respectively.

Well, what can I say? I am absolutely in love with this song and I am not saying this just because Im from Romania: its because the song is not something you would usually expect at Eurovision: its something different and I think Europe will absolutely love it. I am realistic though. I know we wont win the trophy on May 13, but well do pretty good in my opinion: Top 10, maybe even Top 5 (The bookies somehow agree with me, so why not?).

Ilinca comes from a family of musicians and has been studying music sincethe age of 7. She has participated at festivals within the country and results have gradually started to show up. At the age of 14 she competed in the Romanian X factor, as a member of a 4 girls band, reaching the live gala stage. At the age of 16 she took part in The Voice of Romania, reaching the Semi-Final, supported by Loredana. Afterwards, she collaborated with several cultural institutions within the country: Iaşi Philharmonics, Romanian Opera from Cluj and Drama Theatre in Braşov, where she has showcased her amazing musical talent.

Alex Florea has started singing at the age of 16. Mihai Trăistariu has guided his steps towards a music school and then to festivals. Now Alex is studying to get his masters degree in Theatre here in Romania. He also competed (together with his brother) in the Romanian X Factor in 2014, but they were rivals, and in 2015 he met success at Voice of Romania.

So Europe, what do you think? Will Alex and Ilinca reach a top spot in Kyiv or not?